Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Back on Agenda in U.S.

global warmingby Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Instructor

During the recent campaign season, it was rare to hear a candidate utter the words “climate change” or “greenhouse gasses.” Democrats didn’t want to open themselves up to accusations of planning to harm the economy, and Republicans didn’t want to be seen as apathetic about the future of our planet.  Even when Superstorm Sandy hit and Bloomburg Business released its cover with the title “It’s Global Warming Stupid,” politicians were unwilling to take the bait.  But now that the elections are past us, we are beginning to hear the words again.

On Dec. 3 I attended “An Evening with Bill Clinton,” and among the many topics he addressed, he spent as much time on global warming as any other.  His comments included the observation that Washington, D.C., is the only major capital in the world where the existence of global warming is still in debate. His point? It is time to focus on the future, and part of that focus must be on how to reduce global warming.  Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that President Obama has three key domestic agendas he would like to further in the next four years:

  1. growing the economy
  2. reforming immigration law
  3. addressing global warming

Though not highly likely in the immediate future, there’s talk of a carbon tax bill. While that remains to be seen, there’s current legislation taking shape both at the state and at the federal levels aimed at combatting global warming.  Most dramatic is in California which, barring a court challenge, will begin enforcing its Greenhouse Gas Cap and Trade program in 2013. But numerous other states have taken action to support movement to gas-fired generation, renewables, and energy efficiency as has the U.S. Department of Energy. Meanwhile the EPA is continuing with proposed new rules that make it tougher for coal units. On the transportation side, new automotive mileage standards set by the Obama Administration will significantly increase the efficiency of the U.S. vehicle fleet thus also reducing future emissions (see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444327204577617352693933194.html).

According to a recent Huffington Post article, among the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, only the U.S. and Germany have reduced greenhouse gas emissions over the last year. Of course, it’s not a problem the U.S. can solve alone considering the U.S. makes up only 16% of global emissions with rapidly growing China making up 28% (for a summary of various statistics summarizing the global issue see http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/12/files/CarbonBudget2012.pdf ).

So what can we expect to see in 2013?  Don’t look for comprehensive legislation from Washington or for new global agreements.  Instead expect to see continued quiet incremental movement from various states and from ongoing policy implementation by the Obama Administration.  And although it may be even more subtle, look for behind-the-scenes efforts to encourage China and others to rein in their explosive emission growth.  As U.S. Energy Secretary Chu said in an interview with Wired Magazine in 2010, the key to fixing global warming lies in cooperation between the U.S. and China. I suspect this belief still underlies the Administration’s approach.

About Enerdynamics

Enerdynamics was formed in 1995 to meet the growing demand for timely, dynamic and effective business training in the gas and electric industries. Our comprehensive education programs are focused on teaching you and your employees the business of energy. And because we have a firm grasp of what's happening in our industry on both a national and international scale, we can help you make sense of a world that often makes no sense at all.
This entry was posted in Electricity, Energy Training and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Back on Agenda in U.S.

  1. Pingback: Electricity Holds the Key to U.S. Energy’s Future | Enerdynamics

  2. Pingback: Will China transform the world of energy? | Enerdynamics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s